Is It Contagious?
Before there were doctrinal disputes and creeds and overseers, there was a razor sharp focus on being the church.
Each member of the body of Christ practiced a holistic ministry. One that connected their hearts and hands. Their minds and bodies. Their faith and their works.
Listen to what Paul says: We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
I like how Paul puts it: the work of faith.
For Paul and for James, being a person of faith means that we live an integrated life.
We praise God for redeeming us, and then we get to work on showing and sharing the good news of God’s redemptive love with others.
Paul is quick to point out that faith is the ultimate starting point. That faith in God comes first.
If you do have a vibrant faith in God, it will inevitably lead you to love people. To work for their liberation. It will be your joy to help others.
It’s a natural consequence of being grateful. Gratitude provides a limitless source of energy. It’s empowering.
The early church lived totally differently from everyone else around them. They extended hospitality to strangers. They resisted all of the idols that their culture held up. They lived in true spiritual abundance.
And it spread. They had a truly contagious faith.
They had all they needed: each other, the work of faith, the labor of love and steadfastness of hope.
Faith, love, and hope. Paul mentions this triad three times in his letters. They are the virtues that Paul considers foundational to the joyful Christian life.
Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, giving shelter to those in need, healing the sick, and visiting the imprisoned.
The way of Jesus and the early church is contagious. They were the church. People saw love and healing and community and they wanted to be part of it.
Faith, hope, and love.